Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kustancia Ounde

      Read Kustancias story, and then visit her at the Boyd St. Urban Farmstand Wednesdays 2-5.

      My name is Kustancia Ounde and I am 56 years old. I am a farmer from Southern Sudan. In Sudan we started our farming season in March. It starts raining in March. It rains until June when the sun comes back and starts to dry everything out. It rains again in July. I grew all sorts of fresh vegetables, millet, sorghum, pumpkins, white beans, other kinds of beans, cabbage, and greens. In May we planted red sorghum, cassava, sweet potatoes and corn. In June we planted cotton and in July we planted sesame and corn for a second time. During the heavy rains, the termites leave their mounds. In March and April we harvested four kinds of mushrooms that grow out of the sides of the termite mounds when it is raining. In January and February we did lots of fishing and hunting. At home we kept pigs, goats, ducks, and chickens.

        I have been farming in Maine for four years and it is very different than farming in Sudan. In Sudan we had our corn fields planted very near the village but we had to walk about 1.5 miles to get to our sorghum fields. We also had to walk very far every day to gather firewood.

        My children are interested in farming. With the moneywe made from farming, they were able to attend school. They also helped me grow mangos. I like farming in Maine. If I stay home, I am tired. When I come to the farm, I get to talk to people and have a job to do. My favorite part of farming here is when I have vegetables and I can go to the market to sell them and talk to the people who come to the market. I need help going to the market and help growing my vegetables. I eat vegetables – all of them – and a little meat. I love vegetables and salad. I eat everything I grow.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Do vegetables inspire Community? We think so.

What  is missing from this beautiful farmstand picture?

          Why the farmer who grew it all, of course! At every farmstand, there is a least one customer who asks: "who grew all this?" It is with pride that the farmer responds: "I did!".

Yesterday, at our Wholefoods farmstand, two Bosnian women stopped by. We have seen them everyweek, at one farmstand or another, since we opened. They buy Swiss Chard that they will use it in a traditional Bosnian Dish called “Pita” where the chard is cooked into an egg, cream, and cheese base. More familliar faces stop by, CSA customers picking up their bags and regular customers, looking for their familliar kale fix, or scoping out some new additions piled up on cool and wet burlap.

The red and yellow stalked swiss chard with deep green leaves made an appearance alongside curly Wintorbor and Toscano Kale bunches.

Some brand new veggies graced our stand this week as well. Tender new potatoes, summer squash and zucchini, cucumbers, Indian basil, and beautiful fennel! We saw Bok Choi, beets and green Beans on Habiba Noors stand, and colorful heads of lettuce on both.    
In the heat yesterday, we were joking that the greens were "napping" since they began to wilt. Here is a wonderful tip for reviving greens that are "napping". Place them in a bowl of cold water for a while, or even overnight in the fridge. They will spring right back to life! Check out more tips in this blog post: Also, we have included some great recipe ideas for the veggies appearing on the stands and in your CSA shares, and dont forget about our resources right here on the blog, vegetable identification and recipes!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

This week on the farm, and in your CSA bag

         By the second week of CSA, we are just beginning to get into a rhythm of sorts. All the planning, the sweat, the teaching, the learning, the relearning and the finally made visible in the bags of vegetables delivered to waiting CSA members, and the packed cars ready to drive off to market.

Seynab Harvests Garlic Scapes
         But...the real reward happens at the point of caring, and at the point of connection. In a way, it seems like a miracle that the plants decided to grow again this year. It feels like this every year. It somehow takes us all by surprise. Regardless, the fields bloom and put forth fruit (though perhaps we should not take this for granted). What we really do not take for granted, however, is the way that each farmer grows into his or her business, taking such care to cultivate beautiful fields and connections with customers. It is more than just growing a business, it is becoming a part of this community, and at the very same time, changing the culture of this community through sustainable agriculture, and sustainable economy. Every person involved with this project is responsible for this local, yet global, shift.

           For creative uses for the shades of green in your bag, see our previous post. The squash plants are starting to trumpet forth blossoms and small tender zucchini and yellow summer squash fingers. Thanks to our intern Emma for sharing some of her favorite recipes for these, plus the beets and kale that are finding their way into your bags!

 ~Summer Squash....
is a surprisingly versatile vegetable, from breads, to patties, to dipping sauces, squash does it all. The easiest, though space consuming way to eat zucchini is to cup into slices, of whatever thickness you prefer—I usually do ¼ inch thick slices—and then simply put on an oiled pan with some salt and pepper, or even garlic or hot pepper, flip once and cook until soft to enjoy as a tasty and healthy side to any main course. Zucchini can also be a delicious addition to a Tzatziki dipping sauce—traditionally a Greek yogurt based sauce. Blend spinach, kale, garlic, scapes, salt and zucchini with a touch of olive oil in a food processor or blender, and stir that mixture into a bowl of plain yogurt for a delicious and healthy ranch or cheese sauce replacement. Flavoring like dill, parsley, or cilantro, can make the dipping sauce a bit for flavorful when standing alone, or alongside a wheat cracker. This can even be used in place of mayo on a sandwich as a healthy alternative. Squash can also be a main course when stuffed with cooked grains, ricotta or feta, herbs and onions. 

The Fields become brighter on these foggy grey days

~Superfood smoothies...
can be a great way to get veggies into your diet—especially ones that can be hard to incorporate, like kale and beets. As a rule of thumb when experimenting with these smoothies chop all hard veggies that would usually be roasted—carrots, or beets—and tear leafy greens—like kale or spinach—before putting them into a blender. Add berries, orange juice, bananas, skinned apples, any kind of juice (orange, apple, or grapefruit are some easy ones that mix well with many ingredients) or lemonade to add some sweetness to the sometimes bitter or strong veggie flavor. If you notice your smoothie isn’t mixing, or old mixing the bottom add a little more juice, and push all the ingredients down, and mixing should happen quite a bit faster. Supplements like chia seeds, wheat germ, oatmeal, protein powder, yogurt, and flax can be added to any recipe for a smoothie that is filling and nutritious. Adding some more exotic fruits, like mangos, acai berries or agave syrup, can add texture flavor and hidden nutrients. These are a great way to get nutrients, especially vitamins that are usually only taken in in small quantities. They can really come in handy for people on the go—make a batch on Sunday night and grab a glass each morning for a quick and healthy nutrient packed breakfast, or pack in a water bottle for lunch! Our favorite smoothie vegetables are avocado, beets, kale, carrots, and spinach—you’ll be surprised how the fruit flavor complements these vegetables.

Super Beet Smoothie

1 Chopped beet
4-6 leaves of kale, torn
1 loose cup of whole frozen berries
1 banana, broken
1 cup orange juice

Blend all ingredients, options for additions 3 table spoons of yogurt, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 tablespoon chia or flax seeds. Can replace orange juice with lemonade for a summery tang.

Green Power Smoothie

6 leaves of kale
1 skinned and chopped apple
½ avocado
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 cup lemonade

Just blend all ingredients and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Make the most of all this green!

When working with greens it is easy to get caught up in the world of salads—and while that can be a tasty and simple use for them, it can also be fun to think outside the salad bowl, especially when working with kale, arugula, garlic scapes, chard and spring onions.

Hopefully everyone has tried kale chips, but if you haven’t they can be a great way to ease into loving kale—just spritz each leaf with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and add hot pepper if you’re daring, and bake lying flat at 350 for 5-10 minutes until crispy and browning, cool and enjoy! Kale can also be a great addition to spinach in a stir-fry, complementing peppers, mushrooms, and tofu, beef or chicken. Massaged Kale Salad is a wonderful summery dish. You can go in any direction here, garlic sesame oil and lemon, or a tahini dressing with shredded carrots and raisins.
Garlic Scapes~

Garlic Scapes are the top of the garlic plant. It has exactly the same flavor as garlic and is a great substitute in any dish that calls for garlic. Instead of crushing garlic to flavor the stir-fry, chop the garlic scapes and mix them in for that garlic flavor! Or roast the whole scape and use as a side dish! Fresh Garlic Scape Pesto  is incredibly delicious on pasta.

Also makes great pesto. Arugula is a slightly spicy fresh green. It's sharp and spicy taste accompanies cheesy pizza, or a beet and goat cheese salad. Arugula can also be thrown into a stir-fry, towards the end so it is just lightly cooked, but it can also be a great additional flavor to Italian style meals—add it to your favorite pesto recipe, or chop and add to diced tomatoes for a farmer’s marinara sauce.


Swiss Chard~

Can also be a colorful addition to any stir-fry to broth-based soup. You can use swiss chard as a substitute for anything that calls for spinach. Bake it into a cheesy gratin, or stir fry it with some garlic scapes or spring onions, add some tomato sauce, and then crack four eggs into the mixture (no mixing). Throw some parmesan or feta on top, bake in the oven till eggs are cooked through. Serve with rice or cornbread or alone.

Spring Onions~

The stem of these early spring onions are still very flavorful and can be used the same way as scallions, chopped in the stir-fry, on top of a salad, pasta, or pizza, or leave the stems on and grill them and use as a side of burgers, steak, chicken, or kabobs!

Collard greens~

These hearty and nutrient packed greens are traditionally slow roasted—with butter or tomatoes—to calm the bitter flavor, but they can also be sautéed in olive oil with lemon zest and pepper flakes for a side dish with a kick!